Malaysia Vegetarian Food

Simple Malaysian Vegetarian Food

Malaysia Vegetarian Food - Simple Malaysian Vegetarian Food

Tubers and root vegetables of Malaysia (part 1)

Talking about tubers and root vegetabes,most people are familiar with taro and sweet potatoes but what most people are not aware of the existence of some less common tubers like ubi badak/ubi jawa/ubi besar(Malay) or Obis(Bidayuh).Its ID is Diocorea Alata Linn.It is known as Greater yam,water yam or winged yam in English.In Hakka it is called Tai Shu(大薯),simply means big potato but in Mandarin is called Mao shu/Shu yi(薯蓣) or fake shan yao(伪山药).

Ubi Badak

Ubi Badak

There are two types of Ubi badak , ubi badak putih and ubi badak ungu.The picture above shows the yam which is bright lavender in color.Due to its attractive lavender color,Malay folks in Kelantan state like to make purple kueh like Koleh ubi badak,belebat ubi badak or purple cake out of this variety.Personally I prefer to make purple ondeh-ondeh ( glutinious rice balls,nyonya style) from this yam.

My late mom cooked soup with it.She would just scoop the flesh out with a spoon and added it to a pot of boiling water.Other ingredients include anchovies, pepper powder,salt and Chinese celery.Ubi badak cooks faster than taro so it is good choice for soup.This is one of the food that reminds me of my late mom’s cooking, so simple and yet so delicious.Yes,definitely no other food could beat food of love.

Ubi Badak Putih

Ubi Badak Putih

As for the white ubi badak,our old folks would just roast them on burning charcoal.It has thick skin like the tapioca but its flesh is much softer and without hard fibre.I prefer to eat it raw,like the way we eat sengkuang, the yam bean or sweet turnip(pachyrhizus erosus).Ubi badak has a texture like sengkuang but it is slimy.Both white and purple ubi badak can be eaten raw.

Kerabu Ubi Badak Putih

Kerabu Ubi Badak Putih with pineapple,wolfberries(goji) and lime juice.

The picture above shows ubi badak putih in kerabu(malaysian salad). Pineapple was added instead of mango .The red dry fruits are wolfberries or goji(Lysium chinense) which can be replaced by raisin.

Or if you like,you can just steam it with the skin and peel off the skin after it is cooked.Ubi badak is not like other type of yam and taro which must be cooked before consumed.Most yam and taro contain plant toxins like dioscorin,diosgenin and tri-terpenes that cause itchiness on tongues when eaten raw.We have been eating this type of yam for decades,never once get itchy tongues.

 

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Kerabu ubi badak with nuts and lime juice.

We Malaysians call taro as yam but botanically they are two different plants. Yam is a tuber from a climber and  taro is  a root vegetable which is a perennial plant with big leaves.Ubi badak is a woody climber with pointed heart shaped leaves and square stems,thus the name winged yam.It propagates by its aerial tubers or a cut segment of the tuber.

It resembles in a lot of ways like the Chinese yam which has ID as Dioscorea polystachya or Dioscorea opposita.In fact,in some part of China,it is called fake Chinese yam(wei shan yao).Both have white and purple varieties and taste slimy.The only difference is in the appearance.Ubi badak can be massive if it is harvested at maturity.If left to grow in loose soil,it will have a long tuber shape but irregular shape shown if left to grow in harder soil.

 

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Segmants of Chinese yam (山药)

For its nutritional values,please check it out from a site called ’1 drop1 dream’.

According to ayurvedic medicine,it is a cure for whip spider poison.

According to Chinese medicine,it acts as a remedy for piles and is applied externally to sores.

As an herbal treatment, Chinese yam in its dried form(wai shan-淮山) is used to target the stomach and spleen. It also thought to act on the lung and kidney. It is used widely in Chinese herbal soup and is beneficial to asthma,dry cough,chronic diarrhea and diabetics.

Since they are very similar,ubi badak must have similar health benefits as the Chinese yam.Yam is a good source of complex carbohydrates and soluble dieting fibre. It also help to reduce constipation,decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol level and get rid of toxic matters from intestine wall.This is especially true with ubi badak and Chinese yam which are both sticky and contain a lot of soluble fibre.


There is another type of yam called air potato(dioscorea bubifera linn) which grows wild in the rainforest of Borneo.I was told by some ex-guerillas that they survived in the jungle by eating these air potatoes.Air potatoes have to be boiled to be edible.Most of the varieties of air potatoes are toxic but after boiling  are edible and taste like potatoes.It is actually a Chinese herb used for treating cancer.It is known as Huang tu or huang yao zi(黄药子) in Chinese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about ‘Durian cempedak’ ? Have you seen one ?

 Artocarpus is a genus of trees found in South-eastern Asia and in the Pacific.
The fruits in the genus of Artocarpus are terap,tempunik,pingan,bintawak,cempedak,pedadai,nangka and kemangsi.Since we have written a post on the terap and its related fruits like bintawak and pingan,we will focus on campedak and other fruits belonged to the genus of artocarpus and in the same family of Moraceae to which all the figs and jackfruits belong.

One of this fruits is Artocarpus camansi Blanco which is also known as buah pulur(Iban),kamansi (Malay) and breadnut in English.Other names include buah keluih(Malay), Buah Kulru and Kelor(Indonesia).

Is it Breadfruit or Jackfruit ? No,it is neither of these two.At first glance,you may think that is either a jackfruit or breadfruit.Really can’t blame anyone for making that mistake.This is breadnut,ancestor of breadfruit,well known for its edible nuts.It can be described as seedy breadfruit.There are people mistaken them for durians.

Buah Pulur which looks like durian

Buah Pulur which looks like durian.


The breadnut tree looks exactly like breadfruit tree with big leaf of same shape and similar height of about 20m.This fruit is getting very rare nowadays.Most people forget its existence because nobody sells this fruit in the market.Local people cook the young fruit and seeds in curry,just like the way we cook unripe nangka pulp and seeds.The skin is spiky like durian.Cut the young pulp with the seeds into small triangles and boil for 20-25 minutes then cook curry with potatoes.
Cross-section of the buah pulur

Cross-section of the buah pulur

 
Both breadnut and cempedak seeds contain high level of protein and low calorie.Pulp of mature fruits are discarded and seeds taken out and boil with a bit of salt.They taste like cempedak seeds and chestnuts too.

Buah pulur seeds from ripe fruits.

Buah pulur seeds from ripe fruits.

There is another fruit which looks like a mixture of Buah pulur and campedak.Local people call it Durian Cempedak which has no ID yet.It tastes exactly like cempedak with juicy,sweet and fragrant pulp.

Durian cempedak and cempedak

Durian cempedak(no ID yet) and cempedak (Artocarpus champeden Spreng.)

Look carefully at their skin.Do they look the same ? The one with spiky skin is called Durian cempedak.It looks like buah pulur but with oblong body shape.It is a new variant of cempedak.Where did it come from? Some said it was the research product of some officers at Tarat area,Serian,Sarawak.Most of us are familiar with cempedak but not this Durian cempedak which is obviously a new fruit without an ID yet.

A very good variety of cempedak with soft and less fibrous orange pulp and small seeds.

A very good variety of cempedak with soft and less fibrous orange pulp and small seeds.

Let’s look at another look-alike of buah pulur – breadfruit.Breadfruit is not native to Sarawak.It is called buah Sukun.Most of our venders here in Malaysia sell them as breadfruit fritters together with banana fritters.I prefer to pan-fry them.My late mom used to cook it in sugar syrup and occasionally added coconut milk to the dish.Ripe breadfruit can be eaten raw but be careful of the latex leaking out from the skin.

Breadfruit

Breadfruit

Another fruit of same genus is the Jackfruit or nangka in Malay.Its ID is Artocarpus Heterophyllus.Nangka should be the biggest fruit found on earth.It can grow up to 20″ long and 12″ across.It is different from cempedak in size and also in its fruit pulp being separated from its seed,unlike the cempedak fruit with pulp sticked to its seed.

Nangka/Jackfruit can easily grow up to 45cm lengthwise and 25 cm across.

Nangka/Jackfruit can easily grow up to 45cm lengthwise and 25 cm across.

Immature nangka fruits and seeds are great for “masak lemak” or curry.Some people,especially old people find nangka fruit a bit tough for them to chew.So before cooking,cut the unripe pulp to smaller pieces.

Pulp and seeds from immature fruit of Nangka.

Pulp and seeds from immature fruit of Nangka.

Ripe nangka fruits are sweet and its pulp do not stick to the seeds.It turns yellow when it is ripe.Malays here would blend the fruits and make cake.Nangka pulp can be cooked in soup together with sweet potatoes.

Nangka pulp is separated from its seed.

Nangka pulp is separated from its seed.

There is another tiny cempedak which is hardly seen nowadays.It is anout 4-5 cm in length,tastes great like its bigger relative.It is called Cempedak hutan/buah pudu with ID Artocarpus Kemando Miq.I used to eat a lot of this fruit during childhood time.Cute-cute cempedak reminds me of my hometown.

Long gone the days when wild fruits were adundant.Where to find them ? We have 24 national parks in Sarawak.May be these are the places to find them in future.

More shoots for ulam to be shared in my upcoming posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edible shoots of Sarawak (part 2) – the leafy shoots

There are quite a number of leafy shoots for sale daily at our local markets.The most popular ones are the pumpkin shoots and cucumber shoots.

Well,these two types of shoots may look alike but they have different taste.Both of these two shoots are quite popular among the natives and the local Chinese here in Sarawak.
 
Pumpkin shoots stir-fried with pumpkin

Pumpkin shoots stir-fried with pumpkin

Pumpkin shoot goes well with pumpkin or sweet potatoes.Both types of leaves have to be crushed and shredded or even chopped finely before cooking , just like the way we cook changkok manis.

There are two types of pumpkin shoots ; the one plucked from the mature creepers and the other type is the pumpkin seedlings.

Pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants

Pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants

Pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants are tougher and take longer time to cook.

Once a friend of mine tried stir-fry pumpkin shoots for the first time and she forgot to crush the leaves.She jumped to a conclusion – that pumpkin shoots were not edible.So for those who are new to pumpkin shoots,please try the pumpkin seedlings first.They are really delicious.

Both pumpkin and cucumber seedlings can be cooked as vegetables.They usually come with roots.

Both pumpkin and cucumber seedlings can be cooked as vegetables.They usually come with roots.

Pumpkin seedlings leaves are very soft and easily crushed. Pumpkin seedlings are obviously a better choice than the pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants.What we do is sow the seeds after pumpkin flesh is cooked.Harvest them before they start to climb or when they are about 30 cm tall.For those who lack bigger space for pumpkin plants to grow,this is a good vegetable for city gardens.They grow easily and do not need fertilizer.

This is a good vegetable for stir-fry,soft and tasty.No other ingredient is needed for pumpkin shoots,just stir-fry the shoots with a bit of salt.The tender leaves can be eaten raw provided they are home-grown.

The pumpkin seedlings

The pumpkin seedlings,easy to grow on good soil.No fertilizer is needed.

The picture below shows cucumber shoots.There are 2 types of cucumber shoots; one is from the regular cucumber plant and the other type is from a local melon-like cucumber called ‘Timun Dayak’.

Local melon-like cucumbers called ' Timun dayak'.

Local melon-like cucumbers called ‘ Timun dayak’.They  turn from light green to yellow,orange to brownish red on ripening.

Both shoots look similar.Those shoots plucked from the regular cucumber plants have leaves that are bigger and they taste less sweet than the local cucumber (Timun Dayak ) shoots.

Cucumber shoots

Cucumber shoots

Cucumber shoot has a very distinct taste of sweetness.Because of this natural sweetness,it is always cooked in soup.In the picture shown here is a bowl of soup cooked with cucumber shoots and sweet corn.Crush the leaves before cooking.

Cucumber shoots soup with fresh sweet corn kernels

Cucumber shoots soup with fresh sweet corn kernels

Other shoots include bitter gourd shoots.Most people would just stir-fry or blanch them and eat in ulam,i.e eat with sambal belacan.Please click here for ulam.

According to Dr Paul Chai in his book – Medicinal Plants of Sarawak,a tea prepared from boiling the leaves is good for high blood pressure.

Bitter gouard shoots

Bitter gouard shoots

Another less common one is the letup shoot.Please click here for more information.

Letup shoots

Letup shoots

There are more leafy shoots for ulam and eaten raw to be shared later in my next post.

 Stayed tuned.

TV 3…………,untuk anda……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edible shoots of Sarawak (part 1) – Coconut shoots and bamboo shoots

 Sarawakians eat a lot of shoots,just to name a few – wild bamboo shoots,nipah palm shoots,nibong palm shoots,wild sago palm shoots(pantu),bindang palm shoots,palah palm shoots and there are more leafy shoots on the list.Among all these  shoots,coconut shoot  and the bamboo shoot are the most popular and delicious in ‘masak lemah’ style of cooking.

 

coconut shoot

coconut shoot

 The cross section of the ‘younger’ shoot has pretty pattern on it.The lower part of the shoot is harder therefore is usually discarded.Cut into bite size or cubes as you like and cook curry,Sarawakian style with it. Stir-fry it with thick soya source and chilies like how we fry bamboo shoot.In Chinese it is called ‘Ya Xim’  – 椰心(umbut kelapa).

How to keep it fresh and less brown due to oxidation ? Cut the shoots in bite size and soak in water.Keep in the fridge.It can last for a few days.

coconut shoot

Coconut shoots soaked in water with cherry chilies and sawtooth coriander leaf.

Texture wise,coconut shoots resemble the wild rice stem (zizania latifolia) which is jiaobai (茭白) in Chinese/禾薯(Heshu) in Hakka.In the sixties and seventies,this vegetable could be found in Siburan Village at 17th mile Kuching – Serian Road.Paddy farmers in this village planted them in their paddy field.Coconut shoot tastes great due to its  coconut flavor which is lacking in wild rice stem.Nowadays,wild rice stems are imported from China and sold in supermarkets.

Coconut shoot

Wild rice shoots/wild rice stems (茭白)/Heshu (禾薯) in Hakka

Coconut shoots are either cooked in ‘masak lemah’ style or in local curry.Sarawakian curry is a bit different from the regular type found in the West Malaysia.It is more soupy,unlike the regular curry which has more gravy.It is closer to sayur lodeh(mix vegetable curry) in Indonesia.Vegetarian curry cooked with potatoes and coconut shoot is a very popular dish in Sarawak.

Before cooking , boil the coconut shoots for 20-30 minutes.The water can be retained for cooking.This precooking process is necessary to soften the texture of the shoots.

Coconut shoots cooked in vegetarian curry

Coconut shoots cooked in vegetarian curry

 Another popular and more common shoot is the wild bamboo shoots.The two most popular ones are the Dendrocalamus asper (Giant bamboo),a.k.a Rebung manis in Malay and another type is Gigantochloa levis(Blanco)Merr.,also known as Rebung beting in Malay.

Bamboo shoots

Bamboo shoots of Rebung manis

Bamboo shoots contain cyanide which contributes to its bitter taste so they have to be boiled and the water left is to be discarded.This process will remove the bitterness of the shoots.

Pickled bamboo shoot

Pickled bamboo shoot (pekasam rebung in Malay)

Pickled bamboo shoots are bamboo shoots preserved in brine.They become sour after a few days.This is great for cooking soup with the pickled mustard.Bamboo shoots can be pickled in sugar solution too.The shoots must be boiled before pickled.

Bamboo shoot

Bamboo shoot of Rebung beting

 Wild bamboo are abundant in Sarawak jungles.Nobody cares to plant them in the villages but in the suburban area,there are cultivated bamboo trees originated from China.The lack of  slightly bitter  taste like the local bamboo shoots makes them less popular than the wild bamboo shoots.

Both coconut shoots and bamboo shoots are great food for people on diet.Bamboo shoots contain 1 gm of fiber and 12 calories per 100 gm of serving.

At present we still have a lot of bamboo trees growing wild around our villages but things may change drastically after a few decades.So enjoy our wild bamboo shoots before they disappear.

 

 

More exotic fruits from our rainforest(part 2) – langgir,the fruit for shampoo

Langgir is a very special fruit to me.It reminds me of my late mother.I have fond memories of langgir.Though it tastes just plainly sweet without much flavor,langgir holds a very special place in my heart.

 

Langgir fruits

Ripe langgir fruits

When I was in primary school , I was my mom’s shampoo girl.I helped her to comb her hair with a wooden comb and langgir shampoo.She would pour langgir shampoo on her hair continuously and my job was combing her waist long hair non-stop for almost half an hour.Not very long after my first few services I learned to escape from this combing task halfway by telling her I wanted to read books borrowed from the school library.You see,she knew I read a lot but seldom studied.

“Mom , I got a pile of books to be returned.”I would tell her this as soon as I spotted a passer-by who could replace me.

“Well then, go and get a replacement .” She would tell me so.

Off I went and grabbed any lady passing by our old house and told them my mom needed extra hands.Most of them were Iban mothers who were on their way to the bazaar across river or on their way back to their longhouses which were 1/2- 1 hour walk from our house.They were just too happy to help because they would chat non-stop till the last drop of langgir shampoo gone into drain.All those ‘Induo’(ladies in Iban) were her good friends.

Langgir in the market

Langgir in the market

Langgir in Malay or Langir in Iban,is Xanthophyllum amoenum Chodat in Latin.It has a Hakka name – 青蓝壳 which means greenish blue shell.Its fruit is about 4 cm in diameter.Its immature fruit is green and turns yellowish green when it is ripe.The skin is thin,soft and easily crushed.That is why langgir fruits are never perfectly round.Very often the skin is indented.Each fruit has 4-5 brown large seeds covered with  thin aril.The pulp clings to the seed and is sweet  and lack of flavor.Some people loves its taste especially after keeping in the fridge it tastes sweet and juicy.

What is special about langgir is its skin.Do not throw away its skin after finish eating the fruits.Our natives in the markets do sell langgir skin in strings.

 

Langgir dry skin

Dry langgir skin

Dried skin of langgir can be crushed and boiled in water to be used as a natural shampoo.It produces bubbles when it is mixed with hot or cool water.It is a good remedy for dandruff.Ibans in Sarawak believe that prolonged use of the langgir shampoo will result in glossy black hair.And indeed it was true in my mom’s case.She had black long hair until she was 60 years old whereas my hair turned grey even before my 50th birthday!

Besides being used as shampoo,langgir dried skin can be used as detergent too. Boiled langgir skin water  was used by the Iban people for washing clothes.Look at the two pictures shown below.

Before

Soiled tablecloth before soaking in the boiled langgir water.

I did an experiment on a piece of tablecloth.First,I poured oil over it and then soaked it overnight in a bucket of boiled langgir skin water.The bubbles disappeared and the table cloth came out clean of traces of oil.This shows that it can remove oil from soiled cloth.Check table 1 for its nutritional value here.

After

Clean and dry table cloth after soaking for one night in boiled langgir water.

Ok,let’s have langgir shampoo and detergent in the market.Don’t play play with PCK Pte Ltd.We are going for real,hehehe………

               

Our rainforest is full of surprises .There are fruits,shampoo,detergent,edible ferns,herbs and what else ? 

Oh,yes,timber, of course and animals plus waterfalls and caves……..Yes,endless resources from the nature there it has.

 

 

 

More exotic fruits from our rainforest ( part 1 ) – Engkalak vs Avocado

Engkala(Litsea garciae) and avocado(Persea americana) belong to the same family of lauraceae.Engkala is also known as the butter fruit.

I spent my childhood in my hometown where wild fruits were plenty and engkala/engkalak was one of the many exotic fruits we ate like snack in between meals.As a vegetarian or vegan, eating fruits for dinner or any other meals everyday is an important step towards daily detoxification.

Those were the days when wild fruits were abundant.They were found growing near small streams and hill slope.Engkala is now mostly grown near the longhouses and in villages.

Engkala

Engkala bintang is smaller in size and is red in color as compared to Engkala bulan which is pinkish in color.

 There are two varieties of Engkala,one is Engkala susu or Engkala bulan,bigger and pink colored and the other one is mini engkala called engkala bintang.Hakka people call engkala’ Ta hak ‘.In Chinese it is 菜燶子.The smaller variety is called Engkala bintang which is richer in taste than the bigger variety called Engkala bulan.

Texture wise,Engkala tastes like avocado and dabai mixed but lacking the richer flavor of both of these two fruits.Some people may not agree with me but personally,I will eat engkala when there are no dabai  to be found in markets.Most people like Engkala bintang which looks very exotic and its sweet taste and richer flavor than the bigger engkala bulan makes it top on the list of ‘must try fruit’ in Sarawak.

 

Engkala tree

Engkala tree laden with unripe fruits.

There are three ways of preparing engkala.Remove the cap-like stalks before preparing the fruits.Wash and rinse the fruits carefully.

1)Tap the fruit gently with the back of a spoon and soon the fruit pulp becomes soft and mushy.Squeeze out the seed and eat the pulp with a bit of salt( as written by Yi Chang of Sarawakiana@2).Honestly,this is the first time I learn of this method.The Iban in my hometown area never taught us this way of preparing buah engkala.They even reminded my late mom not to eat the fruit raw.

2)Sprinkle rock salt over the fruits in a pot.Cover the pot and toss the fruits gently so that fruits are mixed evenly with salt.Wait for 20 minutes.By then the fruits would become soft.The pulp is then creamy and tasty.

3)Soak the fruits in warm water for 5-10 minutes.Throw away the water and sprinkle some rock salt on the fruit.Toss and eat right away.So far this is the most popular way of relishing the fruits.Most Chinese and Bidayuh people would prefer this way of preparing engkala.I was told not to eat this fruit raw for unknown reason.

 

Engkala

Engkala bintang bought from the market.

I am never a big fan of Engkalak .I prefer avocado to engkala.Avocado has richer flavor and the pulp is fine and smooth.

The picture below shows some local avocados which I believe has an origin from Bandung,Java but are widely cultivated in Kalimantan.It is not as creamy as the imported one but for making cheese and avocado spread for bread is just as good as the Australian avocados.

Avocado is an important food for vegetarians and vegans likewise.

Locally grown avocados bought from the market.

Locally grown avocados bought from the market.

These local avocados from the Bidayuh villages have watery flesh and do not have a rich flavor like the imported ones.Most of them weigh around 300 -400 g.

Recipes of avocados as bread spread are plenty in the net.

You just have to slice it,mash it and blend with cheese or mashed potatoes.

I hope more cafes in Kuching will make full use of our local avocados.Mashed avocados can be used as raw topping on pizza together with capsicum and sweet corn kernels.For nutritional content of Engkala,please click table 1.

Chinese new year is just a few days away.I hope I can find more long lost exotic fruits.One of them is buah engkilili/angkali.Now,where have they gone to? There are four of them on my list of ‘must find’.Ten years ago,I have no problem finding them at the well-known Satok Market.Where have they gone to ? Sigh……..

 

 

 

More goodies from our rainforest -Terap vs Bintawak

 Artocarpus is a genus of trees found in South-eastern Asia and in the Pacific.

The fruits in the genus of Artocarpus are terap,tempunik,pingan, bintawak,tekalong,terap bulu ,cempedak,nangka and kemangsi.In this post,we will just focus on pingan,terap and bintawak.

At first glance of pingan and terap , people tend to think of them as jackfruit or cempedak except they have rounder body than the jackfruits.The fruit pulp looks like that of the jackfruit but it is white , unlike that of the jackfruit which is orange or yellow.Its flesh is much softer and creamy.

Tarap

Mountain terap/pingan

 One of my favorite jungle fruits is this mountain terap or pingan which is endemic to Borneo.Its botanical name is Artocarpus Sarawakensis Jarrett.Its pulp is so sweet,just like milk shake.Its white pulp is so soft that it melts in the mouth and just like drinking milk shake,simply delicious.Terap trees are mostly semi-wild though there are still a lot in the jungle.In the past there had been a limited supply of this fruit in the markets. Nowadays we are seeing more of these fruits in the markets probably due to more semi-wild trees are fruiting in the villages.

Tarap

Terap/marang

The picture above and below show terap in Malay or as marang in the Philippines.Its botanical name is Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco.As the name implies,it has sweet pungent odor but the pungent odor is in the skin,not in the fruit pulp.It is oblong,about 20 x 15cm.Best harvest before it is over-ripe and falls to the ground,end up a broken fruit instead.The fruit pulp is sweet and rich in flavour.The seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.

Terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco)

Terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco)

Terap and pingan look very similar before they turn ripe.They both are green and have similar size and look.However,on ripening,terap remains green with very dense,straight green protrusions on its skin.A sweet pungent odor becomes stronger as it ripens.

Pingan,on the other hand,becomes orange in color and is odorless.The fruit pulp is sweet and fleshy.Its seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.They both have white fleshy pulp.

Bintawak

Bintawak

The picture above shows another fruit of same genus in the same family of Moraceae – buah bintawak/bintawa.Its botanical name is Artocarpus anisophyllus Miq.The fruit measures up to 12 X 9 cm and looks exactly like terap except it is yellowish brown in color and the pulp is small,orange and less fleshy with a mild aroma.

Bintawak bead-like pulp is pretty to look at and it tastes as good as it looks but due to its thin aril,it is less popular than the pingan and terap.Unripe bintawak can be eaten raw.The pulp is less sweet but crunchy.

Just like all the fruits with the same genus of Artocarpus,its seeds are edible after boiling or roasting.

 

The unripe bintawak can be eaten raw.

The unripe bintawak can be eaten raw.

 All these three common terap can be found in the markets.The rest are quite rare so I will probably keep them for another post.

Most people are quite familiar with the nangka and cempedak.They look and taste alike but differ in size only.Nangka is big,may measure up to 25 x 50 cm whereas cempedak may measure up to 15 x 25 cm only.

So my dear Sarawakians and Sabahans,don’t forget you have a whole lot of goodies in your very own land.

Our fruity land,

love it ,

preserve it,

enjoy it!

 

The hairless rambutan, buah mujau and local longan fruits

Shown in the picture below is our hairless rambutan , mujau in Iban,buah redan(malay) a.k.a buak seriat in Melanau is quite rare now but during fruit season can still be found at Serian market.Its botanical name is Nephelium maingayi Hiern.

These are tiny cute-cute hairless rambutan,about the size of a 10 cent coin,with skin looks like that of lychee and thin flesh tastes exactly like rambutan.Most natives call it rambutan hutan but Serian natives call it buah Keri.Iban name is buah mujau.While cultivated rambutans are always so sweet and juicy with bigger fruits and thicker flesh,who would bother to pay attention to these tiny hairless rambutans ? Look at its attractive red skin.It looks good and tastes good too.

Serait

Serait/Mujau/Buah Redan/buah putit/Hairless Rambutan

If you are lost in the rainforest,you will thank me for this post on our very own wild rambutan which is so sweet and juicy.It is best for quenching thirst in the jungle.Chinese name for this rambutan is San hong Mao Dang (山红毛丹).It is a seasonal wild fruit with trees giving fruits probably once in three years.It is as precious as gem stones and looks as  pretty as one too.I think the pretty red skin can be used for red dye.

pulasan

Pulasan

Pulasan(Nephelium mutabile Bl.) grows wild in the lowland forests in Sarawak but now is mostly semi-wild due to high demand.The skin is thick with short and stumpy hairs.The thick rind can be easily squeezed open to reveal a translucent,juicy,fragrant and sweet fleshy aril.The flesh does not stick to the seed like some varieties of rambutan.

 

pulasan

Heaps of Pulasan at the market.

Pulasan actually tastes more like lychee than rambutan.The fruit is slightly bigger than rambutan,oval-shaped and  mature fruits can be yellow or maroon in colour.Shown below is a picture of yellow skin pulasan which are mostly wild as compared to the red skin pulasan which are mostly cultivated.

Yellow skinned pulasan,another variant of pulasan.

Yellow skinned pulasan,another variant of pulasan.

Rambutan can be seen everywhere in the markets during fruit season but it is always less popular than durians and other wild fruits.Pulasan is always a  better choice than rambutan.Other wild rambutans like the short hair mujan ,sibau ,gelurut and the dark red mertapang are not shown here.

Rambutan

Bundles of rambutan in the market.

The picture below show buah Mata kucing which is very unique because longan fruits are mostly cultivated in China ,Thailand and other parts of Asia.There are locals who are not aware of the existence of our wild longans and to them,this wild longan is just another type of small longan imported from China or Thailand. One of the variety called ‘Isau’ should be ranked as top quality fruit found in Asia.

The mature fruits of 'sau' with thinner flesh is as green as the 'isau'.

The mature fruits of ‘sau’ with thinner flesh is as green as the ‘isau’.

Its botanical name is Dimocarpus longan Lour.

Basically there are four varieties namely’ isau’, ‘sau ‘, ‘kakus’ and ‘guring’.

The ‘Guring’ is the only smooth  and brown skinned longan.The other three longans have rough pebbly skin.All of them are about the same size,with 2 cm in diameter.All of them taste sweet and juicy with a distinct aroma.

The ‘Isau’ has green skin even when it is ripe and is known to be the best among the four varieties.It has thick and juicy  flesh with small seed.

The ‘Kakus’ has brown skin and has biggest fruit among four of them but its flesh is thin and the seed is big.

The ‘Sau’ is a mixture of Isau and Kakus.

Kakus is more common than the other three.Wild longan is seasonal and not easily found in market.

 

Mata Kuching

Brown mata kucing/Kakus with rough pebbly skin.

 There are a lot more to be found in our jungles.One native retiree told me he can easily survive without prepared food in his ancestor’s land for at least one month especially during durian and fruit season.As I am not a forest ranger,what I know is limited but then our rangers may not know as much as our natives who keep some of the knowledge to themselves.Sarawak rainforest is unique in the way that it has no tigers and elephants,may be that explains why we have so many ethnic groups,all together 27 of them and actually  should be 42 unofficially.

                  

           Yes,that is life -

                     Life live like orang utan,

                 survive solely on the wild fruits alone.

                                          

                                       Beware,

                    

          There is a super market hiding in the jungle.

 

 

 

 

Do you remember the food cooked by Mom?

 

Remembering mom by remembering the food she cooked for us………..A sudden surge of emotion always touches my heart whenever I cook this lovely long bean rice for my children.Whenever she cooked this long bean rice,she would repeatedly told us how they survived during the second war world – the days of eating sweet potatoes,boiled paku and midin(wild ferns) and at the beginning of the war,long bean rice every day.

“Count us lucky because we lived  in small town.There were still a lot of paku and midin around.”She always concluded thus.On hearing this,one just could not help thinking – should we retreat to villages or jungles like our ‘midin’ in order to survive if another war is coming ?

During Japanese occupation time,there was a shortage of all kinds of materials.Of course,rice was one of the items that could hardly be found in abundance.Many just cooked very diluted porridge but in my hometown,local rice was still available.Almost every family in the town cooked long bean rice everyday.This hakka dish actually requires dried shrimps,garlic,rice and a lot of long beans.Simplified version is just cook it with long beans and rice plus salt.That’s it.That made a meal or meals for a day.Everything had to be kept as simple as possible.Those were the days when one really knows what ‘hardship’ meant.My mom passed away eleven years ago.Mom was a loving mom and a great cook.Memories of her images in the kitchen still lingers in my mind even up to this day……

Long bean rice -Don't be deceived by its humble look.

Long bean rice -Don’t be deceived by its humble look.


Let’s just look at some long beans before checking on the recipe.

The picture below shows the red tailed long bean.This is the most popular long bean  in Malaysia and it is used in the long bean rice recipe.It is fleshy and tasty.

The red tail long bean

The red tailed long bean

Shown below are the reddish purple long beans with green tips or tails.The vendors here in the markets call it red long bean.

The red skinned long bean

The reddish purple long bean

Shown below are the snake long beans.The beans are fleshy but not as tasty as the red tailed long beans.It is curly like snake,thus the name.

The curly long bean

The curly long bean

Shown below are the string beans,a very slender type of long beans.In some Chinese restaurants,the beans are boiled for a while and used as an decoration item in the form of a weaved basket,a mat or a boat-shaped plate.

There are less popular long beans not shown here,like the pale green long beans and extra long long beans.

The string long bean

The string long bean

Shown below is a stir-fried dish of red tailed long beans and the reddish purple long beans.Prepare 100 g of each of these two types of long beans and stir-fry them together with 1 tbs of miso and 2 chilies.That is it,as simple as 1 & 2 & 3……

Red and green bean

Stir-fried red and green long beans

Recipe

Long bean rice

Ingredients
  • 2 cups long grain rice (400 g more or less)
  • 600 g – 800 g long beans – cut into 2 cm lengths 
  • 4 dry chilies
  • 10 g vegetarian belacan or miso
  • 4 cups water
  • Garlic (5 cloves) – Optional
  • 2 tbs light soya source
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method
  1. Soak the rice for half an hour.Drain the rice.
  2. Fry the long beans till slightly brown.
  3. Take out from the wok and drain out the excess oil.
  4. Discard excess oil from the wok.
  5. Fry garlic till slightly brown.
  6. Add rice  and belacan and stir-fry in the wok.
  7. Lastly add the chilies,the half-cooked long beans and 4 cups of water.
  8. Cook till the rice gets dry  in the wok then scoop the rice into the rice cooker.
  9. Cook the rice in the rice cooker for 1 hour.

Serve the rice with thick soya source and fresh chilies.As the name implies,this long bean rice should be rich in long bean flavor so the weight of long beans should be 1.5 x the weight of the rice.Don’t be fooled by its simple looks.It is actually very tasty.

Do not use small grain rice like bario rice for this recipe but bario rice is great for cooking long bean porridge.Most of the times local rice like gedong rice or any local rice can be used for cooking this Hakka long bean rice.

This dish reminds us of my late mom.She spent most of her married life busy in the old kitchen equipped with big woks and pots.The best way to express love to her children was by preparing food for the family.That lead me to think – how many of us know how to express love in this way ?

Tell us your memories of the food cooked by your mom/dad or any adults that lead your tears rolling down your cheeks.Please connect with us on facebook.You can either comment or send us a message.

Yes………, memories of food cooked by mom,

     Always hold a place deep in our heart and soul….

 

 

 

 

Oh yes…..,our mangoes rock !

 Hohohohoho….Here come our mangoes………

While homegrown and cultivated mangoes are mostly sweet and not sour at all,the wild mangoes in Borneo and other parts of Malaysia exhibit a totally different look and aroma while at the same time, stimulate your taste buds to give you an unforgettable and exciting experience of their extreme sour taste and fibrous fruits.Personally I like these wild mangoes better than the cultivated ones because they are generally sourish sweet but planting them needs a big space and take a long time to yield fruits.

Buah Mawang

Buah Mawang/Embang/Bambangan/Embawang

The buah mawang( Mangifera panjang Kosterm.) shown above is a big brown fruit weighing 800g-2kg with length measuring up to 18 cm and width 15 cm. Hakka people call it 人头酸 (Human head mango)or Mou.It is my favorite mango.A single fruit can weigh up to 1 kg or more and one variety has fruits as big as human head.There are 2 varieties.The one shown here  is the smaller,is less fibrous and  is sweeter than the other type.A kind of aroma uniquely belongs to the mango family exudes from this fruit.Its flesh is fibrous and yellowish orange in color .This is great for making juice and mango jam,if only we can tame the tree which is usually of height 30-60m.Its juice is really a super drink,creamy and fragrant.One can get head injury if it drops on one’s head.They are known to be more lethal than falling durians.Kids and the elders should be given its juice instead of the fibrous and sour flesh.

I remembered once I was caught waiting for the fruits to drop under the tall tree of almost 60m height near my uncle’s house.Needless to say,I had long lectures one after another by every adult in the family.Practically nobody wants to climb up its tree because of its height so waiting for them to drop naturally  is the right thing to do.

asam kubang

Asam kumbang

The one shown above is Asam kumbang(Mangifera quadrifida Jack) which is my second favorite mango.Hakka people call it 黑皮酸-Heipisuan which means black skin mango.It is so juicy and  pleasantly sour. The fruits are oval in shape and have diameter of around 5-6 cm.The immature fruits are green and on ripening,turn reddish purple in colour.Peel the  dark purple skin to reveal the inner pinkish purple skin attached to the flesh.The flesh is light yellow in colour and is juicy,not sweet,not very sour and fibrous.All these features make it a good fruit for quenching thirst.It is not possible to cut slices out of the fruit because of its fibrous flesh.To enjoy its juicy flesh to the fullest,just peel the skin and suck the juice.

Buah mawang and asam kumbang are very good fruits for diabetic people because they are a bit sweet but pleasantly sour.I like the taste of these two mangoes.Personally I think buah mawang has great potential to be commercialized because of its juicy and heavenly sour flesh.A powerful blender is needed to blend its  fibrous flesh.

Buah bacang

Buah bacang

The other type is semi wild asam bacang(mangifera foetida jack) which is quite common in West malaysia also.Asam bacang is oval shaped and is less aromatic than the previous two.Green asam bacang are made into pickles.Most natives and the malays here eat asam with ikan belis and chillies.The peels from these mangoes do not irritate our lips like the kuini and the fruits do not have strong smell like it too.Asam bacang is not as juicy and tasty as buah mawang and asam kumbang.Its flesh tastes sour and not as sweet as kuini fruit.

kuini

Kuini,the green skined  and odorous mango.

Kuini (Mangifera odorata Griff.) is cultivated everywhere in Malaysia.The medium size fruit develops a distinctive odor as it ripens which is unique of Kuini.Its fruit remains green even on ripening.The flesh is yellow,sweet and not as fibrous as the three species of mangoes mentioned above.It presence can be felt by its aromatic smell which penetrate every inch of the area where it is found.The peels from kuini can be irritating to our lips and cause itchy tongue.

The problem of this mango is its fruits may look fresh green outside but once cut,very often reveal ‘bad apple’ inside.You can safely say that it is always 50 % chance to get fruits with rotten seeds inside.Unlike buah mawang and other wild mangoes,it does not have tough skin to protect it from pests.

Bacang and Lamantan

Bacang/Macang is always bigger than the round shaped Lamantan.This macang measures 15 cm  x 12 cm and the lamantan  9 cm  x  7 cm.

Buah lamantan has light green skin with dark spots on it and looks very much like buah bacang except that it is smaller and rounder.It is also much less odorous than Kuini but stronger than that of bacang.It is quite rare.Most often mistakened for small bacang,buah kemantan is not very popular because of its sour flesh of coarse texture plus the strong odor.

 

Buah mempelam/ampelam/mangga

Asam mempelam/empelam/mangga

Buah mempelam (Mangifera indica L.) is a small green mango which is widely used for making mango pickle known as Jeruk mangga in Malaysia.Its fruit is about 8 cm long and 5 cm wide with bright green colour skin.The skin turns from dark green to yellowish green on ripening.The fruit is extremely sour and the baby fruit is crunchy.This make the baby fruits a perfect choice for making jeruk mangga,the mango pickle.

Cut 500 g of immature buah mempelam into slices or thin wedges without the skin.Soaked in 500 ml of brine (500 g bottled water plus 1-2 tbs of rock salt) for 36 hours.Pour away the water after 1 1/2 -2 days.Add 5 tbs of ground rock sugar followed by just enough bottled water to cover the mango slices.The pickles are ready in two days.

Mini Asam kumbang - the colourful Asam Raba

Mini Asam kumbang – the colourful Asam Raba (Mangifera griffithii).

Here is another type of wild mangoes that is not very common even in Sarawak.It is like mini Asam Kumbang with  purplish red skin when it is ripened.The fruit measures 3 cm x 2.5 cm .The thin,fibrous and attractive orange flesh is thin but juicy and sourish sweet.To relish the juicy fruit,just peel the skin and suck the heavenly juice.Oh,it is so juicy, like eating plums from China but sweeter and more juicy.Its skin turns from green to different shades of red and finally on ripening,becomes purplish red.The green and immature raba are used in preparation of pickles,just like the mempelam/empelam.

 

Mango and seaweed pickles

Seaweed pickles with mangoes

Recipe
Seaweed pickles with homegrown mangoes
Ingredients
  • 3 half ripe mangoes ( 1 kg more or less )
  • 25 g seaweed
  • 3 chilies
  • 3 limes – extract the juice
  • 1 tbs light soya source
  • 1 tbs roasted white sesame seeds
Method
Preparing the seaweed
  1. Steam the seaweed or dry kelp without washing  for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut into bite size pieces and  dry them in the sun.
  3. Keep in a container for later use.
  4. Soak in water for 15  minutes and clean thoroughly before use.
  5. Cut the mangoes into thin slices and the seaweed into long strips.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together.Dust the dish with seasame seeds.

This is a great dish for dinner.Do not eat this with rice.Light meal like this is good for dinner.

Home grown mangoes

Home grown mangoes

My problem with homegrown mangoes is they are just too sweet and just plainly sweet without sour taste.Sometimes I just squeeze buah kumbang juice by hands and mix this dish with it.

There was once somebody asked me this question,” How come your mangoes  are so sweet ? What do you feed the tree with?”

” What else ? I feed it with sugar water la…….”

Eventually somebody’s mango tree died of ‘diabetes’.Oops! Not my fault………..

Oh yes, oh ya, oh yeah…………

     Let’s go mango a go go………

                 Our mangoes rock !